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    Updated on Sep 3, 2020. Posted on Aug 31, 2020

    I Read Stephenie Meyer's "Midnight Sun" So You Don't Have To

    Edward Cullen has way, way too many thoughts.

    Are you curious about Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer but can't be bothered to read it yourself? Or perhaps you've read it and want a fellow reader's rundown? Well, you've come to the right place.

    Cover of Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer
    Little Brown and Co

    In case you didn't know, Midnight Sun is a retelling of the first Twilight book from Edward Cullen's perspective. Meyer was actually working on it back when Twilight was at its peak, but someone leaked her draft chapters and she decided to abandon the project. Until now.

    I recently read Midnight Sun, and it was a real ride. For context, yes, I was obsessed with Twilight in the heady days of the late 2000s and early 2010s.

    Woman wearing a replica Bella Swan engagement ring, posing with cardboard cutout Edward Cullen
    Jenna Guillaume

    The above picture is me with an Edward cutout, wearing a replica of Bella Swan's engagement ring — which I had to take my actual engagement ring off to wear. My favorite thing about the whole thing is how disgusted cardboard Edward looks. I get it, Edward.

    It's fair to say that my obsession never fully went away, it merely lay dormant, like Jacob's werewolf genes. And like Jacob's werewolf genes, it fully came alive again when Edward reappeared thanks to Meyer's announcement that she was finally releasing Midnight Sun.

    I ran out and got Midnight Sun as soon as it was released, and the first thing I noticed was...it's freaking thick.

    Edward is such a guy, taking twice as long to tell the same damn story like his experience matters more

    My copy clocks in at 756 pages.

    Why does it need to be so long, you ask? The short answer is: It really doesn't. It was at least 300, maybe even 400, pages too long. In an attempt to make this recap more manageable and not like a novel in itself, I'll break it down by chapter. Strap in!

    Summit

    Chapter 1: First Sight

    Still from Twilight: Edward Cullen holding his hand to his nose
    Summit

    Midnight Sun opens with Edward painfully bored at school. Relatable!

    And because he's an overdramatic angsty boi, he waxes on about how high school is basically his purgatory and he can't even sleep through it. Apparently, being able to hear the thoughts of literally everyone around him doesn't even make it interesting, because humans are boring.

    They're all excited about a "very unexceptional human girl" (lol) with "an unremarkable human face" (DRAG HER), and Edward is just so above it all, although he is curious when he realizes that he can't hear her thoughts. But he's not as interested in Bella as the "generically popular Mike Newton" is, and I'll take this moment to note that one of the best parts of Midnight Sun is Edward's unending loathing toward the walking human oatmeal that is Mike Newton.

    The other highlight of the book is the extra time we get with the Cullen family. Edward's siblings are generally more interesting than Edward himself. In this early chapter, we see them all bored at school and/or concerned about Jasper, who is suffering in a different way from the rest of them: As a relative newbie to their nonhuman diet, he is very, very hungry.

    But we quickly move on from Jasper's desire to eat everyone in sight to Edward's newfound desire to eat one human in particular: Bella. Edward discovers just how irresistible she is to him when she sits next to him in biology: "Her scent hit me like a battering ram, like an exploding grenade. There was no image violent enough to encompass the force of what happened to me in that moment."

    He spends the rest of the period having elaborate fantasies about how he could get away with drinking her blood. Most of them involve killing everyone in the room. The only thing that stops him is the fact that he doesn't want to become a monster or let down his vampire dad, Carlisle. Basically, he doesn't want, and I quote, "some aggravating and delicious nobody" to ruin everything he and his family have built.

    When he can't get himself out of the biology class, Edward decides to leave the town of Forks altogether.

    We already knew everything in this chapter from the original Twilight series, but we now have a whole new level of detail about Edward's thirst. It's...a lot.

    Chapter 2: Open Book

    Still from Twilight: Edward Cullen smiling while looking down
    Summit

    Edward is staying with the Denalis, another clan of vampires who don't eat humans. The twist is, unlike the Cullens, they don't abstain to be nice — they do it because they're horny. The Denalis apparently just love banging humans so much that they decided they didn't want to eat them.

    But the Denalis aren't just horny for humans. Tanya Denali is also super horny for Edward, which he can hear in her thoughts. Awkward. He's not interested, because for some reason, Bella Swan will be the only person he even considers having sex with in over 100 years. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

    Edward decides to return home to Forks because running away hasn't solved his problem (the problem being his burning desire to eat Bella). He makes sure he's full on animal blood before going back to school.

    Edward tries to be extra nice to Bella in biology because he thinks he may have scared her with all the murderous stares he sent her way last time he was in class. They have their whole onion root brain battle and getting-to-know-you conversation that we see in Twilight, and what's most significant about Edward's thoughts here is that he feels like he keeps slipping up (e.g., calling her Bella instead of Isabella); plus, he's intrigued by Bella. Mainly by how observant, smart, and selfless she seems. He starts to think she's "sort of pretty for a human, in an unusual way." He thinks her eyes look like "strong tea." Sexy.

    After class, Edward escapes to the car park and listens to "violent music" like the angst king he is. He's still really tempted to eat Bella, and it doesn't help that Emmett is all "just give in, who cares." Which is way more endearing from Emmett than it probably should be.

    Chapter 4: Risk

    Still from Twilight: Edward saves Bella form an oncoming vehicle
    Summit

    This chapter opens with Edward going hunting again to try and stave off his insatiable thirst. Carlisle tags along, and the two have a conversation mostly through Edward's mind reading, something that frequently happens when Edward is alone with his family. It's not the most fun way to read what would otherwise be dialogue.

    Carlisle wonders why Edward doesn't just leave town again, and I would wonder the same if it wasn't already clear that Edward is super into Bella. A fact that becomes obvious to his family when he uses his vampire powers to save Bella from being hit by Tyler Crowley's truck in the car park at school.

    It all plays out exactly like in Twilight. Edward, Bella, and Tyler end up at the hospital. We get a brief scene of Edward filling Carlisle in on what happened and getting reassurance that he did the right thing. Edward decides to "assume" the role of a villain to scare Bella off from asking more questions, which is why he's extra mean to her.

    Chapter 4: Visions

    Still of Alice Cullen in Twilight
    Summit

    This chapter gives us some new content: time with the Cullens at home! Specifically, time with pissed Cullens at home. They have a family meeting over Edward's actions, because he's risked blowing their cover.

    Rosalie is especially furious, and she and Jasper both want Bella dead. Edward refuses and considers running away again. Then Alice gets a vision that changes everything: She sees two possible futures for Bella. In one, Edward kills her and drinks her blood. In another, Bella is turned into a vampire and stays with the Cullens. Alice and Esme are super excited about the second option, and Alice asks Edward not to kill Bella because she already loves her.

    Edward, of course, finds both options unacceptable, and amid A LOT of angst, he says he'll find another way, and Bella will never become a vampire.

    We all know how well that plan goes...

    Chapter 5: Invitations

    Still from Twilight: Edward standing in Bella's bedroom at nighttime
    Summit

    Emo Edward is in fine form in this chapter: "High school. Purgatory no longer. it was now purely hell. Torment and fire...yes, I had both."

    He's determined to avoid having Alice's visions come true, so he tries to return to his life before Bella. Which mainly means going through his old routine but constantly thinking of Bella, watching her through others' thoughts, and ignoring her when she comes near. Standard high school behavior, you know.

    It is kind of interesting to see Bella from an external perspective, and specifically from Edward's perspective. The original Twilight books are (mostly) from Bella's own point of view, and here we get more unpacking of why Edward likes her so much (other than the nice-smelling-blood thing). It's a shame it mainly boils down to her being ~not like other girls~.

    Meanwhile, Edward develops a theory that Bella is a magnet for danger. His top evidence for this is his own attraction to her (lol). This is what he uses to justify sneaking into her room for the first time while she sleeps. He just wants to make sure she's safe.

    As he watches Bella sleep, he realizes he's definitely in love with her (finally, he catches up!). He angsts for a while about how she'll never love him back and will one day marry some human guy who won't want to eat her (ahem), and then she says his name in her sleep, and it quite literally changes his life.

    "I struggled to find words to name the feelings that flooded through me, but I had no words strong enough to hold them. For a long moment, I drowned in them. When I surfaced, I was not the same man I had been."

    Folks, Edward Cullen is whipped. And he decides that maybe he can be with Bella without killing her or turning her into a vampire. He's found a whole new kind of thirst, and he wants to indulge it.

    What's extra hilarious about the ensuing interactions between Edward and Bella is that Edward doesn't want to seem all creepy and intense around her, so he's constantly reminding himself to keep it light, when, really, he's about 0.2 seconds away from declaring his (literally) undying love for her at any given moment. Especially every time she bites her lip. Edward is really into that.

    Chapter Six: Blood Type

    Still from Twilight: close-up of Edward Cullen in the school cafeteria
    Summit

    This chapter is mostly Edward getting closer to Bella while confusingly not wanting her to get closer to him because he thinks she deserves better. It results in him saying things to her like, "What if I'm not a superhero? What if I'm the bad guy?" Meanwhile, his internal monologue is all, "Please save yourself. Please never leave me...Run, Bella, run. I love you too much, for your good or mine."

    Yep, Edward is in deep. He even saves the bottle cap from a lemonade Bella drinks at lunch, because he's not just emo, he's also sentimental.

    In this chapter, we also get Bella almost passing out from seeing blood from the blood-typing assignment in biology class, and Edward uses it as an excuse to take her home and be extra protective. He starts to become more used to her scent — which means he still wants to eat her, but he feels like he can control himself a bit better.

    Chapter 7: Melody, and Chapter 8: Ghost

    Still from Twilight: Edward's hands playing the piano
    Summit

    Chapter 7 is all-new content, but...not much happens. Edward starts composing Bella's Lullaby, which is sweet. Esme is happy he's in love. Rosalie is jealous because he's attracted to Bella, when he was never attracted to her. Alice wants to hurry up and be best friends with Bella already. Emmett just wants to hunt bears and have a good time. Jasper's old, nonvegetarian friends Peter and Charlotte are coming to visit, which gives Edward an excuse to hang around Bella and be protective (even more so than he has been).

    Chapter 8 has Edward watching Bella through other people's thoughts again, and then in person when he sneaks into her backyard and hides in the shadows as she reads — you know, the scene when she gets all annoyed because she chooses Jane Austen and everything reminds her of Edward. (He is not the Darcy that Meyer thinks he is.) Edward doesn't know this and is only confused about why Austen annoys Bella so much. Thrilling stuff.

    Chapter 9: Port Angeles

    Still from Twilight: Bella and Edward sitting together at a table in a restuarant
    Summit

    Here we go, Port Angeles! This is where the action starts happening! And by "action," I mean Bella is nearly assaulted by a group of men, and Edward saves her just in time because he's been following her! Not creepy at all!

    Honestly, Edward's perspective on this sequence of events doesn't offer a whole lot of fresh insight. What's most interesting, perhaps, is Edward's acknowledgment of just how flimsy his excuses are for following Bella — he clings to the idea that he wants to protect her, but really, he just can't stay away. We get details of how he follows her through Jessica and Angela's thoughts and loses track of her because he's trying not to be in their heads CONSTANTLY. So generous of him.

    When he hears the thoughts of Bella's attackers — mercifully not detailed on the page — Edward wants to kill them, and it's only Bella's presence that stops him. He's puzzled that Bella isn't more shaken by her near-death experience, and it's kind of funny to have Edward point out the lack of logic when it comes to certain elements of Bella's characterization.

    When he takes Bella to dinner, he gets really hot under the collar over her eating ravioli, and starts waxing lyrical about how he's Hades and she's Persephone, like the drama king he is (and this is why we have pomegranate on the cover).

    Chapter 10: Theory, Chapter 11: Interrogations, and Chapter 12: Complications

    Still from Twilight: Edward standing behind Bella, who is looking concerned
    Summit

    In these chapters, Bella tells Edward about her conversation with Jacob in which he inadvertently revealed that the Cullens were vampires, and subsequently, Edward answers a bunch of Bella's questions about how the whole vampire thing works (and Meyer's vampire mythology makes even less sense when coming from the perspective of one of those sparkly vampires).

    As Edward and Bella grow closer, Edward continually marvels at the fact that Bella is not only not afraid of him but is actually attracted to him. He constantly calls her "backwards" and at one point considers recommending that she seek psychiatric help. It's as if Meyer has attempted to acknowledge all the problematic elements of Edward and Bella's dynamic and cast it in a more 2020-friendly light, but having those aspects come from the perspective of the character who is the cause of most of those issues is...an interesting choice.

    We see a bit of the fallout at the Cullens' over Edward's (mis)adventure in Port Angeles, and also Bella's newfound vampire knowledge. We learn that Carlisle drugs Bella's main attacker and leaves him for the police to pick up. Meanwhile, the Cullens (well, mainly Rosalie and Jasper) are pissed that the treaty with the Quileutes was accidentally broken, and try to figure out what to do. Ultimately, they decide to — wait for it — do nothing.

    A fun little aside is how Edward, grateful that Angela Weber is the only one of Bella's friends to be nice to her in her thoughts (as opposed to Jessica — he really hates Jessica), uses his mind-reading magic and a little help from Emmett to manipulate Ben into asking Angela out. It's weirdly cute.

    Oh, also, this is the bit in the story where they watch a video in a dark room in biology class, and Edward gets just as horny over it as Bella does.

    Chapter 13: Another Complication

    Still from Twilight: Edward and Bella arrive at school together
    Summit

    Edward spends a lot of time watching Bella sleep and analyzing her mental state according to how much she tosses and turns and sleep-talks. He also starts driving her to and from school, and basically spending as much time as possible with her — and when he's not with her, he's usually watching her through other people's minds.

    A big chunk of this chapter is Edward asking Bella questions about herself, and here, Meyer fleshes out their conversations and tries to give Bella a bit more of a personality than she ever had in the original series. But it's mainly pretty basic stuff, like how much she loves classic literature (how has a 17-year-old read THAT many books?), and how her pop culture tastes almost exactly match what you'd expect a middle-aged Mormon woman to enjoy.

    When Edward drops Bella off at home, Jacob and Billy Black see him, and Billy is pissed, while Jacob is puppy dog–excited to see Bella — something Edward finds weirdly endearing. It made me wistful for the throuple ending we deserved.

    Chapter 14: Closer, Chapter 15: Probability, and Chapter 16: The Knot

    Still from Twilight: Edward and Bella lie side by side in a meadow
    Sumit

    These chapters deal with the lead-up to the meadow. The big revelation here is that...Edward thought there was a really good chance that he'd actually kill Bella when he took her to the meadow. Alice has a vision of it happening, you see. And so we get many, many pages of Edward agonizing over the danger he poses to Bella and how much he loves her, and as he processes his feelings, the chances of him killing Bella drop, according to Alice's calculations. But they're still not insignificant — like 30 percent.

    Edward decides that it's a risk he has to take and that if he can get through this encounter with Bella — all alone, in the middle of nowhere, with no one (human) knowing where they are — then he will definitely never, ever kill her.

    He plans to show her his skin, kind of hoping it will scare her off, so of course he wears his scariest sleeveless, white-collared shirt, which he leaves unbuttoned underneath a beige sweater. Even in 2005, this was not a good look, but Bella is super into it.

    Amid all this, we get a flashback to Edward and Carlisle's early years together, and Edward's brief foray into hunting humans, and it's honestly the most interesting part of this section, even if none of the information is particularly new.

    Chapter 17: Confessions, and Chapter 18: Mind Over Matter

    Still from Twilight: Edward looking sad, his skin sparkling in the sun
    Summit

    We're still in the meadow, and Edward steps out in his unbuttoned, sleeveless, white-collared shirt to show Bella his sparkling skin. At first she thinks he's on fire (how???), then she tells him he's beautiful. Edward stares into her eyes to try to figure out what the hell she's thinking. He does this a lot throughout the book, although it frequently ends up with him looking at his own reflection, because apparently her eyes are basically mirrors.

    The rest of Chapter 17 is dedicated to the scene we all know and love — you know, "and so the lion fell in love with the lamb..." and all those FEELINGS. Then Edward gets a bit excited and decides to test his physical limits with Bella. They kiss, and it really gets his juices flowing. Literally — his mouth fills with venom. There's also a reference to Bella's blood "throbbing wetly," and it's the most unsexy part of any kissing scene that I've ever encountered. And melodramatic Edward calls himself the "destroyer of lives."

    Chapter 18 sees Edward and Bella heading back to her house, and they continue to bond. It's all stuff we've seen before. We get a little bit of his family history — nothing new at all. I took notes while I was reading, and the final ones for this chapter are "repetitive" and "how do they get boners", which I think was because Edward and Bella were talking about how horny they were. Or, in Edward's words: "We both also lusted."

    Chapter 19: Home, Chapter 20: Carlisle, Chapter 21: The Game, and Chapter 22: The Hunt

    Still from Twilight: Rosalie holds up a baseball bat while Esme crouches behind her, Bella stands behind Esme, and Carlisle stands in the background
    Summit

    Edward is happy, so naturally his family rains on his parade. Rosalie does her "Being a vampire is terrible" thing, and Alice does her "Bella will be a vampire, just get it over with" thing. Edward does his "That will never happen, I've got this under control" thing.

    Then it's meet-the-family time! The only new material in the whole section is a bit more of an expanded flashback to Edward's time as a regular, human-eating vampire. He details his time following a man who plans to kidnap a child. It is pretty disturbing and feels jarring amid the cute family shenanigans and intense vampire romance.

    And from that dark foray, we're into vampire baseball! Which is quite literally all fun and games until James, Laurent, and Victoria show up. You all know how this plays out: James sniffs out Bella and decides to hunt her. Edward offers nothing new. He's furious and angsty.

    Seriously, nothing new.

    Chapter 23: Goodbyes, Chapter 24: Ambush, and Chapter 25: Race

    Still from Twilight: James sniffing a tree angrily
    Summit

    The Cullens and Bella figure out a plan — well, Bella does, and the Cullens go along with it. Bella sneaks off to Phoenix with Jasper and Alice, while Edward, Carlisle, and Emmett start running north, hoping to draw James away from Bella and ultimately ambush him.

    This is the biggest chunk of fresh content we get in almost the whole book: an entire, drawn-out chase scene! I can't tell if it was good or if it was just a sweet, sweet relief to finally read something new after hundreds of pages of repetition.

    First James pursues the Cullens, but then he figures out that they're setting up a trap, so he turns and runs, and then they pursue him. After running through literal lakes and mountains, James eventually escapes in a small plane.

    Edward and Carlisle head to Phoenix and meet up with Alice and Jasper, who reveal that Bella has escaped them and is headed to James at the ballet studio. What follows is another fast-paced scene as the Cullens steal cars and race through the city to save Bella. Fun!

    Chapter 26: Blood, Chapter 27: Chores, Chapter 28: Three Conversations, and Chapter 29: Inevitability

    Still from Twilight: Edward sucking venom out of Bella's wrist as she lies on the floor
    Summit

    At this point in the book, I realized I still had 100 pages left to read. And it did not seem like I had 100 pages' worth of story left.

    Because, of course, I didn't. Not that much actually happens on these pages. It's Edward's angst that prolongs the whole thing.

    As for the actual events: The Cullens quickly kill James, and Edward saves Bella by sucking James' venom out of her wrist. He's all torn up about it, and he thinks he's going to kill her, but SPOILER ALERT (not actually a spoiler alert; we all know what happens) he doesn't.

    The next chapter, Chores, is appropriately named. It's new content: We see how Alice covers up James' attack and stages a scene to legitimize their excuse that Bella tripped and fell through a window at a hotel. But as much as I love Alice, it's all very boring! We don't even get any more insight into how she feels about the discovery that James originally hunted her. Tell me THAT story, Stephenie Meyer!

    The following chapter sees Edward hanging around the hospital while Bella recovers. He meets Renee and high-key is pretty judgy about her (he is very judgy about everyone, but ESPECIALLY Renee). He doesn't like the way Bella has practically had to raise her, according to his interpretation of their dynamic. He also hates how loud her thoughts are — unlike Bella, Renee basically projects her thoughts onto everyone, even if Edward is the only one who can actually hear them. Apparently Bella gets her quiet mind from Charlie — who isn't totally silent like Bella — but Edward can only grasp at occasional thoughts and vague images from him.

    What's most interesting here is that even as Edward assures Bella that he will stay by her side, he is quietly making plans to leave her, considering himself too dangerous. It seems that the events of New Moon were always going to happen, and Jasper's attack on Bella at her birthday party only hurried up Edward's plans.

    Also, Edward says a line that basically encapsulates the whole book: "Done with that, I went back to brooding."

    Epilogue

    Still from Twilight: Edward and Bella dancing at prom
    Summit

    Finally! We've reached the end! Except for the 30-page Epilogue. Which is Edward taking Bella to prom. Edward goes just wild for the asymmetrical, ruched, and ruffled blue dress Alice puts Bella in, but then he also went wild when Bella wore a dark-brown turtleneck, so his taste is questionable.

    Bella doesn't actually want to go to prom, but Edward insists, and it turns out that it's because he wants to leave her with good memories of him. Because he hasn't changed his mind about leaving her. Bella, meanwhile, is expecting him to turn her into a vampire any day now. These two have serious communication problems.

    The last line is a mirror of Twilight. From Bella's perspective, we got: "He leaned down to press his cold lips once more to my throat."

    Meanwhile, Edward says: "I leaned forward again and kissed the warm skin of her throat."

    And that's a wrap! Congratulations on making it this far. Honestly, Midnight Sun was a slog, but it also made me super nostalgic for a time when Edward Cullen consumed my life.

    Still from Twilight: Edward entering the cafeteria. Text on image: Robert Pattinson, from the commentary track, saying "there are just so many things I could say, I just don't want them recorded."
    Summit

    Although, let's face it, I am still Edward Cullen trash for life. Angst and all.